Near Trainwrecks, Bullets Dodged, And Lessons Learned - Please Share!

Hi Folks,
As farm owners who keep their horses at home, we get lots of opportunities to see accidents that almost happen, and then learn from them. As the saying goes, good judgement comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgement.

I’m thinking about dumb ideas and lessons learned because today my horse got himself hog tied in the leadrope…everything turned out ok, but there was a panic running to get the emergency rope cutter.

So I’m interested in hearing any “dumb” or not-smart things folks have done… and the lessons they learned.


Four years ago bought a new horse. Picked her up and drove back home, about three hours. She was a three year old, had probably never been hauled by herself plus the long haul.

Go to unload, in the dark, let the panel slam back and she kicked the mess out of me with both back feet. Luckily no shoes. I had bruises on my upper thighs for weeks.

I was lucky. Not her fault at all. I was tired and not thinking. Needless to say since that time I make sure to gently pull the panel back and step to the side as I do so.


So many …first was when as a kid I roped a bush from my brand new horse …she immediately stopped and backed. The bush flew out and hit her in the face. We both went flying in two different directions! Most recently I was pulling a fully loaded trailer down a dirt road I had never been on. Ahead was a mud puddle. I very slowly eased the truck over it, but it wasn’t a mud puddle. It was a deep deep water filled hole. My right side tires both slid in. I was able to pull it out without unloading but did $200 cosmetic damage (fender and wiring). DH said I was lucky not to pop a tire or bend the axel. But no horses were hurt so ended well enough.


Let’s see… first horse as an adult re-rider, free lease on a saintly older Appaloosa gelding. I get a little bumper pull stock trailer and learn to drive it carefully. I load the horse, shut the door, go around and tie him.

Then upon arrival, I fling open the back door… without untying first. He stepped back, hit the end of the rope, stepped forward and bent his head around to peer at me behind him. “Forget something, human??” That could have ended badly.

Always untie the horse before opening the trailer door or divider!


I could write a book. :woozy_face:

How about the time about 7 or 8 years ago when my mare got loose near the highway thanks to my own stupidity?

I did not have a perimeter fence around the property. I used to bring my horses into the yard to bathe them, because it was closer to the water spigot. The grass in my yard was lush, so I used to just drop the lead rope and let them free graze while I bathed them. I did this dozens of times with no issue.

Then one day, for whatever reason, my mare just took off while she was loose. At first she just walked off a few steps, then got trotting, and before I knew it she ripping around at a gallop. She went full speed at the two lane highway several times, each time almost running into the road before wheeling around and galloping back through the yard.

I was in tears. It took forever to catch her. Thankfully the only casualty was her lead rope, which was shredded from being stepped on at a gallop so many times.


Teaching horses to GIVE to pressure by dragging soft leads in a paddock or pen under controlled conditions. Yep, horse WILL step on rope, get jerked, but also learns to stop, get off the rope, turn head aside so rope is not jerked on every step. Ankles get tickled with dragging rope, no cause for panic!

Very helpful training when bringing horses in at night, full dark. With groups of horses there is no telling when someone will be stupid! You SURE can’t hold the haltered horse when the lead mare is chasing the silly, pushy 2yr old between you and haltered horse!! Haltered horse backing off, jogging a couple steps on the lead without feeling “chased” by rope, prevents wrecks and perhaps going thru a fence.

Hobble training is another good idea for any horse. Any horse should be able to accept some restriction, to be handled safely. Being hobble trained has prevented terrible damage to some horses here that got caught in deer broken wire. Horses got caught in broken wire, yet stood with foot or leg restrained and waited to be saved instead of fighting to get loose. Smooth wire, but any wire can leave marks. Horses healed, were quite usable again.

There ARE gentle ways to teach hobble wearing. None of mine ever had marks during or after hobble sessions. I consider hobble training an excellent life-skill that horse needs to know. Like tying well, the horse will have a better life ahead, knowing how to do these skills WELL.


Oh, where to start… :smirk:

#1-1985-ish, taking shareboarded young QH to a show 2+hrs away from home. Owner was generous & agreed.
Take horse to the unoccupied outdoor arena to warm up. Did not check that gate was closed…
Horse is young & fresh, bucks me off & heads out the open gate… Towards the road…
Lucky me, he knew where the barn was (after less than 2h on the property :open_mouth:) & went trotting back in.

#2-FF to 2004
New to Horses at Home, I begin unloading supplies at the front gate to my drylot & pastures.
Both horses are waaaaay at the far end of the bigger - ~2ac - field.
I turn to unload something, not closing the gate & both have teleported to the open gate :scream:
I’m able to slam it shut before TB makes his way out.
But TWH is headed across my 5ac, on the diagonal, to the 2-lane road that leads to SR231, a mere 2 miles.
At least I knew running after him wasn’t gonna work, so I’m speedwalking, but not before he’s crossed that road :dizzy_face:
With a pickup truck right behind him.
The God of Idjits placed my neighbors’ Hackney Ponies in the field on the other side & apparently, his 17h+ was intrigued & he stopped to introduce himself.
I do not put halters on my horses in turnout.
I use my jacket around his neck to “catch” & ask neighbor lady who came out (& whom I have not met until now :confused:) if she has a rope…
When - again: God of Idjits - the pickup returns.
It was a neighbor I did know & we’d exchanged farmsitting, so he knew where my halters/leads were & had gone for that.
I introduce myself to neighbor lady, thank other guy & lead the truant back.
TB is most indignant he missed the field trip :unamused:

#3-First of a few :confounded:
I forget to latch a stall door after feeding in the morning.
I stroll down to feed late afternoon & open the service door.
To discover a Horsy Rave has taken place.
30gal galvanized cans of grain are in the aisle, near-emptied (TG, they had been not more than 1/4 full) bag of treats decimated, bales that had been neatly-stacked on pallets were pillaged, several de-twined & spread in the aisle. Then pooped upon.
Horses wearing “However did this happen?” expressions, leave the aisle & go sedately back into their stalls.
Because, if I’m there, it must be dinnertime :expressionless:
Of course it is Winter, so I omit any grain from their dinner, serve scant hay & settle down to observe for any sign of colic or founder :persevere:
Barncat is thrilled I’m providing a lap to sit on for longer than usual.
We all survive.

#4-& My Crowning Achievement :grimacing:
Harness my mini to drive. It’s been a while, so I do a short tour of the drylot first.
Horse & pony are loose, as per usual, but disinterested, return to grazing in the pasture next to drylot.
He’s fine, so I decide to hit the road.
Then all Sense leaves my body :exploding_head:
I open the 12’ gate from drylot to All Outdoors.
Walk mini & cart out the gate & turn to close gate…
Only to discover TWH has Majikally appeared at the gate & shoulders me aside as he strolls out.
Mini wishes to go too, & my pony is approaching the Exit.
I try shutting the gate 1-handed, while still holding harnessed mini.
And fail spectacularly.
I do get the gate shut on the indignant pony, but mini pulls free, sending me to my knees in mud.
Horse & mini (with cart) are headed down the road, Eastbound.
I have time to remember roadwork is in progress at the East intersection, barriers are up, closing the road to traffic.
I’m yelling for horse to come back & amazingly, he does & trots back in the gate I hold open :astonished:
I shut the gate, start calling the mini.
Who is nowhere in sight :sob:
Helpful neighbor kids (NOT!) are calling mini too.
I start slogging down the road, which means scaling the 4’ ditch between my property & road.
No mini to be seen…
Then I see him.
Headed back to me, but stuck in some thorny scrub in a field just beyond my lotline.
God of Idjits (yes, again) has him tangled, but unhurt. Lines are wrapped on a wheel, acting as brakes.
I get him & cart free - scratching the bejesus out of my arms - & start walking him back.
Then (Why? Oh, Why??) I decide to get in the cart.
The aforementioned Gods weep.
Amazingly, we drive the short distance back to the farm without incident.
Sum total of damage: cart has a flat.

There are more, but I’ll stop here :sunglasses:


Hides in corner in shame…
But continuing with the brand new horse F— Ups. 16 month old gelding, Sunny. Within 24 hours, I had been run over by Sunny as he launched himself out the people door of the shed. That was a confusion of loose horse in an area no horse should ever be (I didn’t think a horse could fit out that door!!), two feet of snow, some stairs, and some bruises.
A week or so later…I went to put a halter on him, no problem, but we had by then put him in with my big draft, Buddy. Buddy got all upset that I was working with Sunny and not with him. I told Buddy to back off. I forgot that Buddy’s go to when anxious is very accurate, with intent, double barrelled kicking. Buddy was anxious. I really don’t know if he was aiming at Sunny or at me. I do know that I got the full impact of a hind foot of a 2000 pound horse just below my hip, directly on my femur.
That was stupid. It was stupid on my part. I know Buddy, He is not a ‘safe’ horse. I know when I can trust him and when I can’t. What I should have done is put a halter on him and tied him up. And then put a halter on Sunny. I didn’t. I will know about that split second of personal stupidity for the rest of my life.


Moving to an equestrian community with an HOA after being warned off by vets, farriers, realtors, trainers, barn owners, and local tack store personnel. Lesson learned - if enough people all give the same advice, there must be some underlying valid reason.


Turnout in a ring with mirrors. Horse jumped straight into it. He ended up fine but there was a LOT of blood.


Gotta love it when they are smarter than we are!
(I feel like everyone has done the thing where they open the trailer without untying at least once in their lives.)


DH, DS2, and I once traveled to an event hauling four horses in a two-compartment stock trailer. Two in front, two in back, untied. Pulled into a gas station after a couple of hours on the road, DH/DS2 went inside. I went to the back of the trailer for a routine horse check, slid open the human door and looked into the rear compartment. There was one horse in there. WTH. WTH? WTH!!!

Have you ever been confronted with visual information so preposterous, so unbelievable, that your brain simply can’t process it? I froze in place, didn’t know what to do next. I considered possible scenarios: we’d forgotten a horse. A horse had been stolen along the route (when? how?). We’d lost a horse on the highway :scream:.

I’m not sure how long I stood there processing. I’ve never felt so helpless. I was mentally paralyzed. I had no idea where my horse had gone, or how to figure out where it had gone. I supposed I should call the police.

I finally, numbly, climbed in with the remaining horse, and looked into the front compartment. There were three horses in there. Side-by-side, facing the rear, looking at me. WTH. WTH? WTH!!!

Somehow en route the center door had unlatched and opened, the missing horse had squeezed into the front compartment, then the center door closed and re-latched. That door requires a good hard slam to latch it into place; somehow, on the road, that happened. Horses were all fine, not a scratch on any of them. To this day, I don’t know how that happened. But we dodged a big one.



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nothing major here but when we first let daughter’s horse out in the pasture that had one fence that was a field fence for cattle I saw him standing at the fence line looking intently to the west… three hours later he was still there looking. So went over to see just what he was looking at… nothing he had hooked a front shoe on the bottom 9 ga wire of the field fence so stood there. Had to get the bolt cutters to cut the 9ga wire then pull his show to get the wire out.

Replaced fence with no-climb


I keep my two seniors at home and they get restricted turnout due to one being IR. One winter morning I went out to feed and they were out in the pasture grazing. I had somehow forgot to close the gate to their pen when I brought them in the day before. I freaked out worrying my IR horse might founder, thankfully he didn’t. I now feed them dinner a couple hours after they have come in from pasture, it’s an extra walk out to the barn but I know they are in their pen.


ALWAYS close and latch the gate! Even if you are “coming back in a few minutes”.

DO NOT GO FAR when filling up water trough!

DO NOT leave horse on only one cross tie!

ALWAYS close stall door ALL THE WAY!


ALWAYS close stall door ALL THE WAY!

and lock the door (we use a clip), all of our guys know how to slide their doors open (insert nose in bars, swing head to the right – door slides open) then wonder out to check to see if there is anything of interest they need to investigate


Got into horses?


Truth - now that I have my horses at home one of my “self red flags” (that apparently I keep having to learn repeatedly) is that if you EVER hear yourself saying “oh, horsey won’t go over there in the next short period of time, it’s fine” - it is now guaranteed to NOT be fine & you should immediately re-evaluate your course of actions, lol.


When I was a kid there was a gelding who opened stall doors at the farm next door. One night, he not only opened his own door, but several others as well, including a 16+ hand stallion and a large pony mare. Who says a gelding can’t make a baby!